Militarism is more than guns, landmines or nuclear weapons. Although we must resist the development, use and spread of weapons that kill mainly helpless civilians and destroy civil society, we must understand and resist the ideology of militarism in its every aspect.
Militarism is a global ideology of the abuse of power that has spread around the world. Militarism means that the powerful believe they are always right in using force of any kind, including economic, social and military to justify and perpetuate their power base.
We are made to believe that there is no other way to solve problems, whether they are international or personal, except by force. Our society relies on military structures to convince both military and civilian populations that obedience and loyalty to the the power elite is necessary to maintain the concept of the nation state. When there is a threat to the wealth of the state and its rich elite, only military strength, so we are educated to believe, can resolve disputes and protect us while it kills, oppresses and destroys. The concept of civil society being the best forum for discussion and negotiation is rarely considered and is often treated as weakness or treason.
The ideology of militarism is reflected by community and family life. In much of human society women, children, the elderly , minority groups and the weak are victims of state approved violence and as individuals pay the price of abuse by the most powerful in families or communities. And the cities and villages of both the majority and minority worlds have become conflict zones as the poor, disenfranchised and dissenters are attacked by police and other military forces, be they children in the streets of Guatemala City, campesinos in Chiapas, native Canadians or global trade resisters in Quebec .
The rigid hierarchy of the militarized elite enforces this ideology through education and the media which glorify violence. They allow no opportunity or space for building different egalitarian forms of society. Militarism with the dominance of the strong and powerful spreads the standardized hegemony of the dominant culture around the world, oppressing and eliminating the diversity of smaller and less powerful societies. Our social values are saturated with the rights of the powerful , including the righteousness of “the bottom line”.
The environment, our physical world, is increasingly controlled by a government-corporate elite that treats nature as a treasure chest to plunder and to use as a toxic waste dump. Now, with new developments in biotechnology, tight corporate control of global food supplies, the ripoff of natural resources, the spread of genetically engineered organisms with no regard for their effects on ecosystems, and new forms of warfare based on biotechnology, often developed by the same companies that are trying to own our food production; the militarist ideology of force, violence, and secret scientific development becomes dominant everywhere.
The ultimate hierarchical structures of militarism are the military and trade agreements and treaties that nations sign to consolidate worldwide the power of big governments and big corporations. The new social movements have their origins in the work of majority world peasants resisting the take-over of agriculture and land by global corporations backed up by military and paramilitary force. These peasants understood the threatened loss of food and community security and were prepared to organize, work, risk danger and continue for the sake of self-sufficiency, biodiversity and human dignity.
Resistance to militarism is more than controlling the spread of new weapon systems or protesting war. Resistance is more than protest. And resistance is more than building and working in elite, hierarchical structures that mirror military structures and the inherent ideology of might is right. Resistance is not verbal aggression and competition between social movements and their supporters. Resistance is a committed active creativity, grounded in the experiences, knowledge and wisdom of many diverse groups, dedicated communication, and community based work towards a vision of peaceful, just, social change.
Resistance is fertile!